Newly named Twinlab CEO Naomi Whittel is calling 2016 a "leadership moment" - not just for her company but for the entire supplements industry.
Speaking about the Twinlab Consolidated Holdings CEO position announced Thursday, Whittel confessed a mixture of reluctance and excitement at the prospect, but said she believes her promotion is a sign that the industry is not content to rely on an old-guard mentality as new challenges emerge. Whittel said she is enthusiastic about tackling those challenges. "I feel so strongly about the future of not just our collective brands but also what we can do to bring value to the entire industry," Whittel said in a telephone interview.
With the specter of eroding public trust and increasing scrutiny by state attorneys general, leadership at the CEO level is more crucial than ever, she said. CEOs have to be visibly involved with the public, the trade associations and other companies. Whittel has been very high profile on TV and in magazine interviews as CEO at Reserveage, the company she was running when she was called up to the Twinlab spot, often talking about the science behind skin care and age-management supplements. She says that kind of visibility and access to media is going to be very important for the whole industry. She noted that the intersection of science and trust wil be pivotal territory for the supplement industry in coming years, and communicating that message is easier when media relationships have been carefully cultivated.
The announcement came less than a week after Whittel spoke at the Women in Naturals event at Expo West, calling for more women in more leadership positions across the natural products industry. On Thursday, Whittel said the Twinlab board's decision to put the reins in her hands is a sign industry leadership is ready for that message. "The research shows that when there is a critical mass of women at the management level, it's good for consumer satisfaction and it's good for the bottom line."
On a financials and acquisition level, Twinlab has been very active in the last two years. Reserveage was acquired in August and 2014 saw an elaborate stock buyback maneuver. Whittel says she plans to optimize the assets and structure already in place and then build on new science to create new products. "Right now, the focus is on solidifying and becoming important in the eyes of consumers," Whittel said.